I often struggle to fall asleep quickly at night during the month of January. I constantly ask myself needless questions: “did I remember to pack my basketball shoes for practice tomorrow?” “Will I remember that formula for the algebra test tomorrow?” “When is our next student council meeting?” These questions buzz around in my mind like bees, and the noise is sometimes a little too much. I get stressed, overworked, and overwhelmed. WIth all of these commitments and obligations and activities, who could blame me? As a society, we need to take time out of every day to remember that we are human beings, not human doings. We weren’t made to zip from one pressure-filled obligation to another, glossing over the details that make life beautiful. We were made to live fulfilled lives, we were made to stop and stare at the clouds, and we were made to reflect. We were made to be, not do.
As a high school senior entering my last semester of high school, the pressure to “do” is higher than ever. With college applications, scholarships, constant senior class festivities and the pressure to succeed academically, many seniors feel like senior year has been less of a fun-filled finale and more of a task-riddled conclusion. This situation involving high school seniors undoubtedly applies to the rest of humanity as well, with many adults feeling consumed by work and obligations, instead of feeling fulfilled and reflective. While striving to succeed is obviously a vital, positive part of the human experience, we as a people often cross over the line between constructive work and drive-draining, pressure-packed work. We forget that there is a difference between making a life for your family and making work your life, and this is dangerous to us socially and societally. As a people, we are unhappy, and to find happiness we need to rediscover the importance of reflection and relaxation, and remember that the quality of our lives should take precedence over the quantity of them.
As I transition into the exciting next phase of my life in college, I realize that the pressure to “do” will be higher than ever. As an eager and naive college freshman, I will most likely overcommit myself and join a few too many clubs and student groups, along with playing a sport in college. If you add these obligations to the increased academic workload, I am afraid that I will be quite busy once again. The difference is, I will not be overwhelmed. I won’t zip through my days like a bee buzzing from flower to flower. I will be on my own, free to roam the Pine Grove on campus, free to take a leisurely stroll downtown, free to stroll at my own pace. The opportunities that await me in college are so exciting, but the idea that I will procure the full meaningness of every day excites me even more. Moving forward, I hope to forget about doing and remember being, just as I hope the rest of society learns the same.
When my head hits the pillow tonight, I will strive to focus on the important, beautiful things that I can control. I hope that my questions will turn from frantic wonderings about deadlines and requirements to pondering, positive thoughts about my relationships, goals, and surroundings. I want to wonder about what I will do this weekend with friends, and not about what club I can join in order to make my college application look better. The questions that should keep me awake should be “what can I do to make my parents happy today?” or “how can I make my basketball teammates feel more confident today?” On a personal level, remembering to be and not just do is easier said than done. After four years of being so task focused and set in my ways, the idea of “being” seems so different and intriguing, and it feels like I am close to achieving it.
Through all of these questions that I ask myself, the lure of new experiences, and society’s struggle with business, I still forget about reflecting and enjoying the small things in life. I still struggle with the idea of having math homework, basketball practice, and organizing Prom in one night. I worry that my obligations will overtake my opportunities for reflection, and I worry that society will continually forget the importance of just “being.” Of course this is a lot to think about, so I have decided to simplify things. I will ask myself: “what can I be” instead of “what can I do?”